Can you Wait to have a Rotator Cuff Tear Repaired?

POSTED ON 1/2/2011 IN Shoulder BY Christopher Centeno


Patients today have many options to treat a shoulder rotator cuff tear and often explore those options through research on the internet before they decide which treatment (surgical, non-surgical stem cell injection, physical therapy) fits the best. A recent study examined what was the optimal time for surgery of a rotator cuff tear. These patients had a painful tear due to trauma, weakness in the shoulder, and couldn't fully lift the shoulder to the side and over their head. The study concluded that surgical rotator cuff tear outcome wasn't compromised (regardless of the rotator cuff tear size) up to four months after injury. Most tears could also wait longer, but patients with massive rotator cuff tears who waited longer than 4 months had the worst outcome. As we advise patients on what type of rotator cuff tears we believe we can treat through injection of their own stem cells under imaging guidance and which types would be better treated via surgical repair (usually the massive rotator cuff tears with retraction of the two ends need surgery), it's helpful to reassure patients that waiting to make a decision about whether surgery or stem cell injection is right, up top a point, doesn't seem to impact surgical outcome. While many rotator cuff tears can be treated successfully with the injection of the patient's own stem cells, if that process doesn't work, at least in tears that aren't the massive, retracted type (which we wouldn't generally treat with stem cells), waiting for surgery to try a non-surgical option, doesn't seem to negatively impact outcome.

  1. shoulder
  2. shoulder rotator cuff
  3. tear

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